Summer is nearly upon us, which means more New Yorkers will be flocking to the Catskills for weekend trips—it’s both an excellent place to find calm away from the city, and a somewhat cheaper (and more outdoorsy) alternative to the Hamptons. But actually getting to the region can be a hassle, whether you’re enduring the mass of traffic leaving the city or wondering if you’ll make it out of Port Authority alive.
Enter Catskill Carriage, a new shuttle bus service that wants to make the trip to the mountains seem like a breeze, rather than a slog. The bus—like the Hampton Jitney, but for upstate weekend-trippers—picks riders up at a Midtown bar and treats them to reclining seats, free Wi-Fi, power outlets, and spacious bathrooms to make the ride to the Catskills as smooth as possible.
Carriage founder Gabriel Brodbar says the idea came to him one chilly Wednesday afternoon in February as he picked up his wife from the Monticello bus station in the Catskills. While waiting in his car, he observed the all-too-common features of a coach bus ride from the city. “People are absolutely miserable getting off the bus,” Brodbar explains. There had to be a better way to get eager vacationers to their destination, he thought—especially as the region experience what Brodbar says is a “renaissance.”
Following a soft launch over Labor Day weekend last fall, the Carriage officially opened for business at the end of May and has weekly trips planned through October. Two northbound buses will depart from Barcelona Bar on Eighth Avenue every Friday afternoon, with drop off points at breweries in Monticello, Callicoon, Livingston Manor, and Roscoe, and return riders to Manhattan and Brooklyn on Sunday afternoon.
Riders can get off at four different stops in the Catskill region, and there’s also an express option that skips a stop along the way and comes with hostess service. Most trips won’t take much longer than a couple of hours—depending on traffic, of course.
If a northbound express bus is sold out, Brodbar and his wife Aimee have even promised a slice of homemade apple pie to everyone on board. Brodbar notes that they’re weighing the options of adding more routes and drop off points in places like Hudson Valley—that is, if this summer season goes well.
“People are hungry for more authentic experiences, and those are experiences you can’t get in the Hamptons,” Brodbar says.